“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

6 Dec

Manager of School Programs Lindsay Smilow asks, "Who here is an artist?"

My job here at the Queens Museum of Art is to give support to the education department’s K-12 programming and school trips. What this actually means is to bring over 16,000 children a year to our museum to experience the Panorama of the City of New York, the Neustadt Collection of Tiffany Glass, the scale model of the New York City Watershed, and our rotating contemporary art collections. Museum trips for children might not be as earth-shattering to them as we would like to think (as one colleague put it the other day, “The only thing I remember from museum trips as a kid was what I listened to on my Walkman and what my mom packed for lunch”). What makes the QMA different however, is engaging the kids with studio workshops that let their imaginations take free reign using materials they might not usually get their hands on at school or at home. I completely agree with Picasso that every child is an artist, and hopefully these much-needed arts programs for kids will help them stay creative and constantly imagining when they grow up.

My initial goal before I started my second year as a Public Ally at the QMA was to get at least one child to become a lifelong lover of the arts. There are many examples of kids coming back to our programs year after year as kids, then eventually becoming a Queens Teen, and then begininng to bring their own kids to Sunday workshops. I can’t measure this goal in one year but I’ll let you know how the journey goes. I would love to hear about how art has affected your education and am curious: What is your earliest memory of art-making or an art museum?


9 Responses to ““Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso”

  1. Tess December 6, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Playing in the Temple of Dendur at the Met Museum when I was four!

  2. MacArthur Antigua December 6, 2011 at 2:31 pm #

    I remember going on field trips to the Art Institute (in Chicago) in elementary school. I remember being in awe of the huge Chagall and Seurat paintings.

    In terms of making art — the thing that I remember most warmly was having to making up skits/short plays in class. It was daunting to alot of my classmates, but for me that was the most fun and in my wheelhouse. Thanks for asking this question!

  3. Public Allies December 6, 2011 at 6:10 pm #

    Diane here … I *love* this question! My earliest art-making memory is making cards (birthdays, holidays) for family members. But why can’t I remember my first museum trip? I’m getting on the phone to mom right now.

  4. Philip Drew December 7, 2011 at 10:15 am #

    My earliest art making memories are of sketching scenes of the capitol building in Olympia, Washington. My mom was a State Senator while I was 4-8 years old and I would spend a day at the Capitol whenever session was in and school was out. Apparently, the best way to keep me quiet and content on the Senate floor or at committee meetings was to put paper and pen in front of me. Thanks for the question! I haven’t thought about those memories for quite a while.

  5. pemadb December 8, 2011 at 3:23 pm #

    Thanks for sharing your memories everyone! I’m glad you got to dig up some warm thoughts connected to art. Hope it made you think about art in your present and future as well 🙂

    Phil my earliest memories are similar to yours- my mom used to bring old documents I could color and draw on when I came to visit the office. She also had plenty of botanical/insect line drawings for some reason and I used to make little books out of them. Kids get given arts + crafts projects to distract them but it’s amazing how much it helps with development as well.

  6. Tahireh Thampi December 9, 2011 at 9:28 am #

    Wow, studio workshops and experiencing new mediums and materials is such a beautiful way to experience a museum. My earliest memories of any museum school trip are the quotes “keep your hands to yourself” and “don’t touch anything”. I just love this idea of allowing children to have real sensory hands-on experiences in a place that is usually so inaccessible for them 🙂

    • imdelgado December 12, 2011 at 6:36 pm #

      Great point, Tahireh!

  7. pemadb December 12, 2011 at 1:14 pm #

    Tahireh! What a great comment, I never looked at it that way 🙂 Might steal that quote for my final presentation at the end of the year that we all have called Presentations of Learning.

  8. vista tweaks December 17, 2011 at 5:17 pm #

    Made me immediatly think of “Keep away from people who try to belittle your ambitions. Small people always do that, but the really great make you feel that you, too, can become great.” –Mark Twain

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